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J Neurosci. 2006 Aug 16;26(33):8588-99.

Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor family members sensitize nociceptors in vitro and produce thermal hyperalgesia in vivo.

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Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


Nerve growth factor (NGF) has been implicated as an effector of inflammatory pain because it sensitizes primary afferents to noxious thermal, mechanical, and chemical [e.g., capsaicin, a transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) agonist] stimuli and because NGF levels increase during inflammation. Here, we report the ability of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family members artemin, neurturin and GDNF to potentiate TRPV1 signaling and to induce behavioral hyperalgesia. Analysis of capsaicin-evoked Ca2+ transients in dissociated mouse dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons revealed that a 7 min exposure to GDNF, neurturin, or artemin potentiated TRPV1 function at doses 10-100 times lower than NGF. Moreover, GDNF family members induced capsaicin responses in a subset of neurons that were previously insensitive to capsaicin. Using reverse transcriptase-PCR, we found that artemin mRNA was profoundly upregulated in response to inflammation induced by hindpaw injection of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA): artemin expression increased 10-fold 1 d after CFA injection, whereas NGF expression doubled by day 7. No increase was seen in neurturin or GDNF. A corresponding increase in mRNA for the artemin coreceptor GFRalpha3 (for GDNF family receptor alpha) was seen in DRG, and GFRalpha3 immunoreactivity was widely colocalized with TRPV1 in epidermal afferents. Finally, hindpaw injection of artemin, neurturin, GDNF, or NGF produced acute thermal hyperalgesia that lasted up to 4 h; combined injection of artemin and NGF produced hyperalgesia that lasted for 6 d. These results indicate that GDNF family members regulate the sensitivity of thermal nociceptors and implicate artemin in particular as an important effector in inflammatory hyperalgesia.

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